The party was going well. Hesitant to label it a success, but that was Chrissy to a T. Even when she was riding a wave, she looked for the sharks.
She sipped her cocktail and glanced around. The wait staff she’d hired were moving seamlessly through her guests, offering canapes and drinks on trays. The chef in the kitchen was sweating as she slaved over the stove top and oven. Yes, it was going well.
Chrissy moved towards James. He was standing in the corner with a beer bottle in his hand. Looked like he was making conversation with Harry and Sara. She’d deliberated over inviting him, but in the end, decided they were ancient history so it was done.
‘James,’ she said when she was nearer. ‘Good to see you. How are you?’
‘Great, Chrissy. I’m just great.’ He smirked at her. ‘You’re looking well.’
Well, that was obvious, Chrissy thought, but nice of him to say. She turned towards the other two and said, ‘Harry, Sara, how are you both?’
Too late Chrissy remembered how Harry and Sara liked to discuss their woes, aches and dramas. They launched into a detailed summary of all that had befallen them over the last four months. After two minutes, James excused himself and scurried off to mingle anew. Chrissy was stuck. She cursed herself but smiled and made all the right noises in the right places.
She surreptitiously checked her watch. God, they’d been droning on for eight minutes now. Harry paused to take a breath. Chrissy pounced on the opportunity.
‘Well, I’d best keep circulating. You two enjoy the night.’ She smiled, rubbed Sara’s arm in a gesture of what she hoped looked like kind friendship, and moved on. Her eyes darted around the room, looking for him.
There! In the corner of her living room, by the stereo. With his lips on the neck of Krystal, her work colleague. Chrissy had fallen for that move many years ago. She grinned, realising that she knew his entire repertoire and didn’t even mind watching him bust his embryonic moves on someone else. In fact, she felt sorry for Krystal. She made a mental note to check in with her during the work week.
Chrissy sipped more of her drink, and moved in the direction of more guests. She was right to invite him. She felt nothing. They were done.
A crash startled her. She looked behind her to see Krystal standing over James, who was on the ground. His beer bottle smashed on the floor. Krystal’s right hand was clenched and her face was…her face was hard. Brittle. Angry.
‘Krystal,’ Chrissy said quietly. ‘What’s the matter? What’s happened here?’
‘This guest of yours decided to start nibbling on my neck, as if I was a dish on offer.’ She glowered at James, still on the floor, his chinos and shirt soaking with spilt beer. ‘Chrissy, I thought your friends would be more high-brow.’
Harry wandered over and began to help James to his feet. Once upright, James glared at Krystal and said, ‘You bitch. You asked for it.’
‘James,’ Chrissy said. ‘I think you might need to leave. Harry, would you please show James out?’
Chrissy looked around for a waiter. ‘You probably need a fresh drink, Krystal. Let me get one for you.’ She waved at the nearest waiter as she guided Krystal to a chair and lowered her into it.
‘Way to have your do ruined, Chrissy. I’m so sorry.’
‘Not your fault. James was always a party pooper, now that I remember.’